Rasika Karunatilake


Why an offshore industry path is both a global value enabler and creator

IT industry in Sri Lanka as it stands today
Sri Lanka’s IT industry covers several sub-segments including captive, tech services, technology products and professional services.

What the nation should strive for with IT
Given the breadth of offerings, we should aim to position ourselves better as a regional tech powerhouse.

Core characteristic of this industry here in Sri Lanka
Ability to deliver world-class engineering.

Core strength
Strong sense of professionalism embodied by our workforce compared with other players in the region.

Sri Lanka’s competitiveness in this industry
We have been growing in terms of high value offshore engineering in the past two decades as evinced by the number of tech investments that have come into the country.

Economic contribution to the nation
At this juncture, information technology is one of the best sources of forex for Sri Lanka.

Macroeconomic contribution
The macro contribution it makes enables us to move from being positioned as an agro industry-based economy to one that is knowledge-based.

Barriers to industry growth
Most organisations don’t have a problem generating demand for their services but the ability to supply has been inhibited.

Main barrier
A supply side issue in terms of the availability of skilled professionals.

One major area that needs to improve

Reason for saying so
Our capacity to produce tech professionals is a major limiting factor.

Overcoming this lacuna
We need extensive changes to improve the overall education system – and produce more graduates at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels.

Another supply side issue
A circumstantial issue – i.e. the state’s inability to incentivise tech professionals and insulate them from the economic crisis.

Why this is vital
This is necessary because tech professionals have the highest career mobility globally.

Ways to overcome this burden
A robust national framework for the IT industry formulated by both the public and private sectors, which focusses on long-term continuity over several decades.

Path to achieve this goal
We need to increase our tech workforce without compro-mising on quality and improve the ease of doing business in Sri Lanka.

Impact of the economic crisis on the tech industry
We are witnessing a mass exodus of tech talent.

Evidence for this
The attrition of senior tech professionals could lead to a lack of technical and operational leadership that will threaten the very survival of the IT industry.

Opportunities for growth
We need to position ourselves as a desti¬nation for specific technology offshor¬ing and cultivate more niche skills.

Reason for this
Offering generic tech solutions won’t make Sri Lanka competitive.

Evolving consumer trends or behaviours
Customer experience, personalisation, data privacy and quick turnaround times drive major tech spaces today.

Beneficiaries of these trends
B2B and ‘business-to-business-to-consumer’ (B2B2C).

Focus areas for improvement for IT professionals
Helping them to understand tangential domains; not only in tech but there also needs to be a strong emphasis on soft skills.

Gender balance in the industry
Gender balance in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is a global issue.

Status of the above among IT professionals
The industry has been progressive in terms of developing and retaining more women in tech over the past several years.

Competition drives innovation…
Yes, it does; but it also results in copycats. However, the ones that compete on the basis of innovation tend to outlive the imitators.

Qualities one needs to pursue an IT career
Aspire for a ‘podium finish’ in your industry and field.

Vision for Sri Lanka’s IT industry
In terms of value, to evolve from an offshore enabler to a global creator.

– Compiled by Dona Senara

Rasika Karunatilake is the Vice President and General Manager of Sysco LABS Sri Lanka.